Gardai and the Department of Social Protection have issued another warning to the public over a complex phishing scam where fraudsters pretend to be from the Revenue.
The spike in scams since the outbreak of the pandemic is continuing, with hundreds of people being affected this week.
Gardai have said that there has been a “continual increase” of cases involving an elaborate phishing scam that has proven to be popular among thieves.
In terms of what the scam involves, criminals are making bogus phone calls and sending scam text messages to individuals whereby they’re pretending to be a member of An Garda Síochána or the Department of Social Protection.
The increased popularity and prevalence of this scam has prompted the Department of Social Welfare to issue a warning which said: “Customers and members of the public are reminded about scam phone calls and scam text messages they may receive from individuals purporting to be an official of the Department.
“These calls and texts display a range of numbers. Any person who receives such a call or text is asked to report it to the Gardaí immediately.”
One person said: “Warning* I received a recorded phone call from Revenue ( #scam ) saying I owe money and legal action will be taken unless I press 1 to arrange payment etc” and provided the image below.
Given the popularity and believability of this fraud, Detective Superintendent Michael Cryan has provided more details on the methodology and details of how this scam is done.
Cryan said: “Over March and April, we are seeing a continual increase in parties receiving phishing scams, these are phone calls from people reporting to be from service providers, banks, the Gardai, the Attorney General’s office, and other social protection entities like that.
“One scenario that will be given to a person is where they receive a phone call from an 083 number. Initially, it’s an automated voice that advises them to press number one or number two. Once they press the number, they’re then speaking to a person who advises them that their PPS number or their bank account has been used in some serious crime – let’s say, money laundering.
“They’re then advised that their money needs to be protected, and it needs to be moved to a different account. In a number of cases last week, the injured parties were persuaded to download apps onto their laptops and phones, this allowed the fraudster to move the money into different accounts.
“When the injured parties questioned the legitimacy of this, they receive calls back from numbers which purported to be from the Gardai. This fraudulent caller confirmed to the injured parties that this was legitimate.
“The scenario being used by the fraudster may change – for example, one case may see your account being used for money laundering, while another could involve warrants being in existence for your arrest. In all cases, what the fraudster wants is your data, to take control of your bank account and steal money from you.
If anyone has received a call/text of this nature, the Gardai have issued the following advice.
“The advice is always the same – to be wary of such calls, especially if initially it’s an automated voice. Do not engage, do not return the call, hang up on them and never share personal information. Never give away your PPS number, your banking details or any personal pins and data like that.
“Do not allow them to monitor your account, do not download any apps onto your phone or instal any remote data onto your desktop. Do not remove money for them, do not meet them, do not arrange to meet them. If you do receive these calls, take note of the number, the time and report it to Gardai. The advice is that the Attorney General’s office, the Gardai, social protection will never ring you and ask you for personal data. If you get such a call hang up on them.”